Monday, May 14, 2012

Brimfield - Random Thoughts

What a great time Margaret and I had roaming the fields of Brimfield, Massachusetts last week!   Brimfield is a tiny town with a two-lane highway running  through it.  On either side of the highway are 21 fields which fill with about 6000 dealers three times a year.  Different fields open on different days.  The show officially starts on Tuesday, but upon arrival Monday afternoon we learned that there was great early shopping to be done in some areas.  Here you'll see random photos, most taken on the last day - the first sunny day we had. I'll share some finds in another post.  Monday thru Thursday we encountered rain.  Never exceedingly heavy, but the fields were muddy.  Comfort always trumps fashion at Brimfield, and with layers and rain gear, we were not deterred by the weather.
We made it for the opening of all the best fields.  Shows open anytime between 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
We were up between 4:00 and 5:30 every day to get into Brimfield to get in line early and to have good parking. (We made multiple trips back to our van each day to drop off purchases.)  Lines stretch for what seems like miles just before an opening.
The line for the J&J show on Friday is the most genteel.  Everyone is polite.  In some of the fields it's a mad rush and we learned how to get in quickly without getting caught up in that, (after a horrible experience last year!)
Brimfield this year was a nice  mix of vintage and antiques.  We saw far more industrial items than we did last year.
Japanese buyers were plentiful.  Most often we saw them purchasing clothing and industrial items.
Pricing varies widely at Brimfield.  Some dealers had high-end show prices. If we stopped at a booth and saw only three digit numbers on the tags, we moved on.  There's plenty to be found at reasonable prices.
Styles are mixed.  One of the most frustrating things about Brimfield is that a large portion of the dealers do not tag their items at all.  With crowded booths, waiting to get the attention of the seller to ask a price can be very frustrating.
We didn't see a lot of common 'brown' furniture.  (You'll note that this booth had no one even looking at the merchandise.)  Most furnishings we saw being purchased were primitives or cool industrial pieces.
There were only a handful of dealers featuring white or Annie Sloan colors. Those booths did not appear to be very busy either. The farmhouse primitives with original finish seem to be more in demand at Brimfield.  (I think the Midwest may tire of white soon; we're always a bit behind the curve - but I reserve the right to be wrong!)
Because we flew in, we were limited to purchases of small items.  I think it would be terribly frustrating to be on the hunt for larger pieces at Brimfield.  Buying teams from Ralph Lauren, J Crew and others swoop in and grab the best items so fast that it makes your head spin. 'Sold' tags are slapped on big piles of stuff and off they go.
Old advertising is plentiful.  I loved this sign.
Displays are random...tables filled as things come out of the box.  You can't overlook a table like that; there can be treasures among the trivial.
At $1000, this little beauty was still available on Friday.
There were things on my list that I did not find, but in the end I shipped 200 lbs. of wonderful goodies and can't wait for all of my boxes to arrive this week.  My biggest regret was not meeting some of my Aussie buyers, Mike & Lizzie of Hobohemia.  Because I stooooopidly did not check my FB page for a couple of days, I missed connecting with them.  :(
Here's Margaret, as we were taking our last load of the week to Fed-Ex.  (A mini-van rental is essential if you plan to purchase much!)
Another Brimfield essential - stamina.  We walked 4 - 7 miles each day and then had to haul all of our finds into our hotel, pack 'em up and back out to Fed-Ex.  There are few places to rest at Brimfield;  it's difficult to find an empty table to sit down for a quick lunch.  Margaret was a perfect shopping partner; we work at that same pace and have different tastes so were not competing for the same items.  Can't wait to do it all again next year!


  1. I kept hearing the tune "She works hard for the money" the whole time I was reading this.
    I wish vendors would take the time to price their mdse. It makes it so much easier for all.

  2. Love reading all about your Brimfield adventures! The last (and only) time I went was 15 years ago. My stamina wasn't that great, as I was 6 months pregnant at the time, so maybe I should try again. Would love to know how you managed to avoid the stampedes, and can't wait to see your purchases.

  3. Very cool Jan. I do not know if I have the stamina for that show. Two hundred pounds is a lot and I am glad you had a good time. I definitely know the Deep South is behind the curve. I found a 1960's pink utility cart this weekend at an estate sale and am jazzed about it.

  4. LoVEd reading your post!!! Sounds like you had a FaB time - how could you not!*!*!
    Jeanine Burkhardt

  5. Sounds like so much fun! I enjoyed your insights on what was selling well there, too!

  6. I went on Wednesday and fields I was in were very expensive! If I had more stamina I would have ventured on! Next time I am going into totally different fields!

  7. I found your blog searching for information on the Elkhorn Lake Antique show. Thrilled to learn we were both at Brimfield at the same time. I kinda started my antique show adventure backwards... Brimfield was my first show. Now I am searching out ones closer to home (Fox Point, WI).


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